Once referred to by the New York Times as one of Wall Streets’ hundred most creative investment bankers, Ziad K. Abdelnour has overseen over 125 transactions representing a value of over $30 billion. He has personally raised over $3.5 billion in privately placed debt and equity financing for dozens of American and international companies. The Lebanese-born Abdelnour made his early fortune in the 1980s on Wall Street as a high yield bond salesman. As President and CEO of Blackhawk Partners Inc., a New York-based venture capital company, Abdelnour has built a “family office” that focuses on generating capital growth through global early stage development.
But with all his financial success in the investment banking world, Abdelnour has stood behind causes close to his heart: Lebanon and the Middle East. In 1997 Abdelnour and 56 other Lebanese American activities established The United States Committee for a Free Lebanon (USCFL). The non-profit, non-sectarian think tank seeks to educate the American public about Lebanon’s strategic and moral significance. The organization’s fundamental objective is to create a democratic Lebanon and Middle East. This, they argue, serves American interests and warrants American support.
Given his business inclinations and personal relation with the Middle East, Abdelnour naturally embraces a link between the two. Arabs are not “inherently dangerous partners,” Abdelnour wrote early this year. “Either we [the United States] facilitate business ties and economic prosperity in the Middle East, or we risk losing our ability to influence the people of the region permanently.” But Abdelnour fears American businesspeople will “hesitate to seek out business opportunities in the Middle East.” The pro-business Arabs, he says, “want what we all want—the respect of the world. And what better way to confer respect than to do business with them, trade with them and give them a seat at the table of international economic power.”
Creating a democratic Middle East economically linked to the United States, Abdelnour argues, serves the interests of both the Middle East and the United States. For his part, Abdelnour’s Blackhawk Partners became the financial advisor in a $300 million recapitalization of the largest and only water-bottling facility in Iraq. Abdelnour hopes American politicians and businesspeople will continue along this same path of economic integration while pushing for a free and democratic Middle East.